Craig It's calving season in Northwestern Colorado, and getting ready for calving season means:
1. Making sure an alarm clock, with a loud ring and numbers that can be read in the dark, is in good working condition.
2. Buying new batteries for all flashlights and extra bulbs for the barn lights.
3. Finding pants that fit over pajama bottoms and putting them where they can be found in the dark (so as to not wake other people in the house).
4. Having plenty of coffee on hand for those long nights and wee hours of the morning.
5. Finding easy crock pot recipes and fixing oven foods that can be checked only occasionally if a cow needs help.
6. Locating the calf book and putting it where it can be found.
7. Keeping boots, gloves, coat and coveralls in the same place so this outdoor gear can be found at night.
8. Locating the chain for the calf puller.
9. Stocking a good supply of dry socks because boots are known to spring leaks after getting stuck in corral "slop."
10. Locating a good nipple for the calf bottle and making sure it fits the bottle before a calf has to be fed some colostrum.
11. Buying colostrums, syringes and needles, calf number tags, scour pills, iodine, udder balm, vaccines and other supplies.
12. Locating the ear-tagging gun.
13. Remembering to put vaccines in the refrigerator.
14. Making a checking schedule for a pen of 60 first-calf heifers.
You know that it's calving season when:
1. There's a big March storm that puts down a foot of snow.
2. The barn inside and outside lights are on all night.
3. Lights from flashlights and other vehicles can be seen at night by people passing by.
4. Stores that handle livestock supplies are busy restocking shelves with powdered colostrums, vaccines, syringes, udder balm, iodine and other calving supplies.
5. Cows eye a dog or cat that might be crossing the pasture or corral.
6. Ranchers get so tired from getting up at all hours of the night that they don't know whether they're coming or going, and toward morning ranch wives might even forget to put pants over their pajamas.
7. A rancher can be seen driving a 4-wheeler that's pulling a trailer with a calf on it, and a cow is following closely behind.
8. A cow can be seen at the far end of the pasture, getting ready to calve.
9. A heifer (not yet at breeding age) can be found babysitting several calves on the feedlot while the mothers are off eating.
10. Calves are chasing one another up and down a manure pile and in and out of an irrigation ditch.
11. A cow is calving while still eating on the feedlot because she just can't miss a meal.
12. Calves are seen lying flat in the sun on hay in the feedlot, taking a morning snooze.
13. Barns have to be cleaned several times a day.
14. The coffee pot keeps perking all day.
15. Groaning and moaning sounds can be heard from sleeping pregnant cows that are so heavy they're uncomfortable.
16. A very determined cow (that wants to have her calf in the pasture) is being chased by ranchers.
17. A very tired rancher marvels at the sight of a wobbly calf as it finds its first meal, and no matter how many times it's been seen, this sight is worth it all.